Kuehnle Moves Chlamydomonas Toward Commercial Applications

Kuehnle AgroSystems powder

Protein-rich algal biomass produced by KAS’s patented fermentation method. Photo: Kuehnle AgroSystems Inc.

Kuehnle AgroSystems (KAS), a sustainable algae ingredients development company in Honolulu, has announced the allowance of its patent for producing algal proteins and other products from Chlamydomonas by dark fermentation.

According to KAS founder and CEO Dr. Adelheid Kuehnle, this places KAS as the first and only company to achieve a patented, scalable industrial manufacturing platform for Chlamydomonas by fermentation. The breadth of the patent covers aerobic fermentation across a group of algae called the Chlamydomonadales, normally grown photosynthetically. The novel process uses the facultative heterotrophic nature of the cells to become powerful production factories under the right conditions of dark cultivation. No light is required.

“Fermentation is an extremely fast process, producing one ton of product from seed flask in just two weeks,” said Dr. Kuehnle. “It offers a very favorable land and water footprint compared to other plant proteins and employs software-controlled precision cultivation for best outcomes.

“Our company is dedicated to supporting human health and well-being through natural and sustainable ingredients derived from microalgae. This patent protects our ability to do this for a set of ingredients from Chlamydomonas and other species that are pivotal for plant-based foods and animal feeds.”

Meatless protein, flavorful and colorful nutrition

The patented process can be used to make highly digestible and complete plant-based protein for the surging alternative protein markets using Chlamydomonas. “As a whole food, KAS’s microalgae contains greater than 60% protein while delivering minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other components valued for foods, beverages, and nutraceuticals,” says Dr. Kuehnle.

“Unlike most algae, including Chlorella, the Chlamydomonadales group of algae is distinguished by their soft, non-cellulosic glycoprotein cell walls that do not require added processing or extraction to render its nutrients bioavailable.”

The company notes that the patented process covers production of additional ingredients for adding color, flavor, and vital nutrients to plant-based meat and seafoods, such as hematoproteins and selenoproteins, produced by members of the Chlamydomonadales. Colors of the algae produced by the process range from red, yellow, and green to achlorophyllic.

“We are assessing all possible options to begin implementing this exciting technology in order to commercialize our ingredients, including through licensing and strategic partnerships given the immense interest from industry,” says the firm in a statement.

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